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Dear Mekong Tourism stakeholder,

Last week MTCO completed a very productive inspection trip with our friends from the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism and the Luang Prabang Department of Tourism to plan the most unique Mekong Tourism Forum yet.

MTF 2017, "Prosper with Purpose", will take place June 6-9 in Luang Prabang, Laos.

After the official openings and inspiring keynotes of the morning sessions, each Forum afternoon (June 7-8) will give delegates the chance to choose from one of eight different tracks with two sessions each. These small-group "breakthrough" sessions will be hosted by various experiential venues in or around the UNESCO World Heritage-listed town, or on or overlooking the mighty Mekong. In our planning right now is an ethno-botanical garden, river cruises, rice field, and much more.

Due to the nature of the afternoon sessions on June 7 & 8, we will have a strict cap on the number of delegates this year. When registration opens make sure you get in early to avoid disappointment.

On June 6, MTF 2017 will feature for the first time the Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) program. Yesterday (Monday, Feb 13) MIST opened applications to tourism startups based in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam (the MIST Startup Accelerator) and to slightly more mature startups who want to enter those emerging markets (the MIST Market Access Accelerator). Applications close March 19. Read more about it here.

We look forward to hearing from you as always, and hope you enjoy this week's newsletter. And remember: sharing is caring.

Have a great week!

Jens Thraenhart
Executive Director, MTCO

News & Articles of the Week

News & articles that caught our attention over the past week:

Cambodia, Myanmar to Link Siem Reap, Bagan
Cambodia and Myanmar have agreed to strengthen ties by focusing on tourism and education. One plan is for tours linking Siem Reap with Bagan ... Read more about it.

Myanmar, Thailand Push ‘One Destination’
Thailand and Myanmar have vowed to raise the number of visitors between them to 1.5 million by 2020 as part of “two countries, one destination” ... Read more about it.

Chinese Tourism a Foreign Policy Tool in Asia?
For China’s neighbors, incoming Chinese tourists can serve as a valuable cash injection into the local economy, but does it come with strings attached? ... Read more about it.

China’s New National Park to Protect Mekong Headwaters
In 2017 China will start developing the infrastructure for a vast new national park that will protect the headwaters of three rivers, including the Mekong ... Read more about it.

Tourism’s Rising Importance to Vietnam; First e-Visa Arrival
With rice set for another difficult year in 2017, tourism may be critical to lifting Vietnam’s economy in the short term. HCM City welcomes first e-visa arrival ... Read more about it.

Ecotourism Making Plans in Thailand
The Thai Ecotourism & Adventure Travel Association has mapped out a plan to develop products to meet international standards and tap new markets ... Read more about it.

Bangkok Tourism Questions Chao Phraya Promenade Project
Bangkok’s tourism sector is worried the Chao Phraya Riverside Promenade Project will have adverse impacts on the river's economy, scenery, and charm ... Read more about it.

Inexpensive & Exotic: A Trip through Cambodia, Laos
The first day of Scott Heim’s trip to the Mekong-region countries of Laos and Cambodia ended with "a fireside dinner of freshly-caught river frogs” ... Read more about it.

Thai Navy to Rescue Resorts from Tide of Trash
The Royal Thai Navy, maritime police, and provincial administrators are preparing to scoop from the Gulf of Thailand a tide of trash threatening tourism resorts ... Read more about it.

Recent Additions to the Mekong Tourism e-Library

Thailand Tourism Forum 2017 – STR Presentation – Thai Hotel Trends
A Thailand Tourism Forum 2017 presentation delivered by Jesper Palmqvist of STR on Thailand's accommodation sector performance plus comparisons to other ASEAN markets ... Download for free.

ITB World Travel Trends Report 2016/2017
This new report by IPK covers predictions for global tourism growth and its sources; the Mekong tourism region; the influence of terror threats on travel behavior; the development of the Chinese outbound market; and trends in the sharing economy ... Download for free.

Mekong Tourism Forum 2016 Report
The official summary report of the proceedings of Mekong Tourism Forum 2016, Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Cambodia proudly presented the report to the 38th Meeting of the GMS Tourism Working Group in Kunming, Yunnan ... Download for free.

Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST)

MIST Helps Tour & Travel Tech Businesses Launch in the Mekong
Do you have a tourism business plan for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Vietnam? Prepare for takeoff. MIST accelerator applications open until March 19 ... Read more about it.

Also join MIST's Facebook discussion group.

MTCO Seeks e-Library Contributions

In addition to economic reports, statistical analyses, industry studies, and much more, the Mekong Tourism e-Library hosts contributions in the following new categories:

Multi-Country Journeys & Mekong River Cruises
Tour and cruise operators offering multi-destination tours and cruises (defined as tours or cruises that visit more than one Mekong-region country) are welcome to send their eligible itineraries in PDF format. The objective is to develop a resource for those seeking Mekong experiences for their customers (or themselves).

Tourism Development Projects
Economic development agencies (bilateral or multilateral) and non-government organisations (NGOs) are encouraged to send, in PDF format, scopes of work, terms of reference, reports, and case studies pertaining to tourism-related projects in the Mekong region. The objective is to develop a resource for all Mekong tourism stakeholders.

MTCO Seeks Tourism Experts

Subject matter experts, such as consultants, executives, and industry journalists, who are active in GMS travel & tourism, are eligible to become “Official Mekong Tourism Experts“. In return for regular (non-exclusive) business-, trade- or policy-related content, Experts will receive a range of profile-enhancing benefits ... Read more about it.

MTCO Seeks Travel Storytellers

MTCO welcomes anyone with a passion for storytelling who wishes to share their unique and unusual travel experiences: multi-destination Mekong journeys and experiences linked to social, cultural, or environmental causes. In return for regular content, Storytellers will receive a range of profile-enhancing benefits ... Read more about it.


MTCO is active on various social media platforms under the universal handle @TourismMekong. Please follow and engage with us by clicking on the links below:

LinkedIn: Mekong Tourism discussion group
Mekong Tourism is a collaborative effort between Cambodia, China, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand,
and Vietnam to promote the Greater Mekong Subregion as a single tourism destination.
Tag with #TourismMekong - Follow us @TourismMekong
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